Noah’s Image in Our Psyche
Several years ago, I presented to an editor a manuscript I wrote about Noah. Just a few
days later I received it back advising me to send it to a publisher of children books. They assumed that a book about Noah must fit children, depicting on the cover an old bearded Noah, smiling, standing on a boat surrounded by greening animals. Another common image
of Noah is a drunken old man, rolling naked on the ground, like the Greek’s Bacchus.
That experience made me wonder whether G-d has implanted that distorted, comic image of Noah in our minds – intentionally, for purpose. For who in his right mind would be offended by the words of our grandpa Noah? Who would be scared by his coming?
For Noah is not here to start a new religion, or to spread his faith by the sword, or to build a new empire from east to west. For Noah, by name, is a pleasant person, accommodating anyone. Yes, it makes sense to see him as a semi comic figure, threatening no one, loving everyone, like an old grandpa of all of us, regardless of our affiliation. Zealously and exclusiveness is none of Noah’s features, and they are not part of his legacy.
And Noah’s wife, our mother Naama, seems to be the same as Noah. Her name too means that she was a pleasant woman, accommodating anyone. Like Noah, her image too is presented with semi comic legends, about herself and her family.
Thus, Noah tells us – don’t kill for me, don’t spread my truth by your swords. Relax, my descendant, drink wine, roll over on the ground, sing and raise your cup to the Heavens in my name. Melt your weapons and make of it metal ploughs, cater to the creatures that share with you the world, and please, do not spoil it by your unwarranted zeal.
Haven’t you noticed? A laughter is the best weapon against zealousness.
In that mood, let’s reconstruct Noah, Naama, their funny families and their plenty foolish mishaps – that actually changed the human history.
Those were my thoughts. Anyhow, let’s be serious. What was Noah’s faith?
If humanity in Noah’s time split into two camps
Enosh’ disciples “calling” – worshipping – YHVH, overlooking ELHM,
Cain’s “Children of ELHM” – following ELHM, neglecting YHVH,
where did he stand in that split?
Noah kept Oneness
On Noah the Torah says
“Noah found face in the eyes of YHVH,
Noah walked with ELHM (6: 8-9)
Hence, he kept Y-E Oneness. He complied by both.
Let’s note the difference:
YHVH assessed Noah emotionally, he “found face” in Her eyes,
ELHM saw him “righteous” for he walked in ELHM’s laws.
Oneness is a way of life
Oneness is not only a mental, philosophical issue.
Oneness is a way of life. It teaches us to combine
YHVH ways with ELHM’s ways despite their enormous difference.
Thus, Oneness tells us to live in the following paradoxes:
- Seek medical treatment while praying to YHVH- a paradox!
- Punish our kids and love them at the same time – a paradox
- Walk in ELHM’s world full of pains, while feeling the values YHVH – a paradox!
- Keep ELHM’s strict laws while having a freedom of the mind given by the Merciful YHVH
- Developing science in ELHM’s world while believing in G-d’s providence
- Seek Justice and impose punishments, while believing in Mercy
- See JUSTICE as an act of Mercy to the world – as it says “YHVH is One!”
On the Eternal Sabbath, ELHM will abstain and YHVH will reign alone.
Hence the Oneness of YHVH and ELHM will be clear to see.
That is why the Sabbath is when Oneness is a KING!
Kingship, Oneness and the Sabbath are for all to see!
So, we may ask:
What was Noah’s Sabbath?
Did he experience the Sabbath?
In our times, half of humanity, who follows MERCY, observes the Sabbath on Sunday,
Completely oblivious to its meaning.
The other half, believing in Allah (ELHM,) observes the Sabbath on Friday,
also oblivious to its meaning.
And only a fraction of humanity, Israel, observing the Sabbath as a Temple In Timeline For the Dwelling of the Shechinah.
In Noah’s time, when humanity split along the same line between the Attributes,
did Noah observe the Sabbath?
A hint for that, according to the midrash, is given in the verse that says:
“These are the offspring of Noah; Noah was a righteous man…(6:9)
The Midrash says: Why is Noah’s name repeated side by side (Noah, Noah)?
The answer is: For Noah, whose name means “one who rests,” merited to observe
TWO TYPES OF RESTING DAYS, TWO TYPES OF SABBATHS,
one is our weekly Sabbath, the other is the Eternal Sabbath.
Noah experienced the Eternal Sabbath in his ark, at the time of the Flood.
For in Noah’s ark, YHVH reigned “inside the ark,” (Genesis 7: 16)
while ELHM brought His Judgment – the Flood – outside the ark (Genesis 6: 16)
Indeed, inside Noah’s Ark there was no agony and no death,
the wolf did not prey on the sheep, and a child could safely play on the snake’s pit,
as the prophets of Israel would later prophesize the future, for Israel and the nations.
How did Noah observe the Sabbath?
The 39 ‘prototypes of work’ that are forbidden on Israel on the Sabbath,
were given to Israel in connection to the building of Moses’ Tabernacle,
where the Shechinah would Dwell. The same 39 work prototypes that Moses
used to build the Tabernacle, became the 39 types of works that Israel
should ABSTAIN from doing on the Sabbath.
But in Noah’s time, the Shechinah did not yet come down to Dwell in a Temple
or even in our hearts. She did enter, however, our world from Her Sabbath.
In Genesis Chapter One She is depicted as an acronym entering the
Sixth Day of CREATION, the front of Her name – YH – resides here, the other half
the VH – is still in the Sabbath.
Noah knew, from Adam and Eve, and from his mentor Enosh, that it is up to us,
to Mankind, to draw Her farther inside our world, so that Her whole name
would Dwell here in the Heavenly Court. Her advent in the Court would offer
us the option to repent, ask forgiveness and start all over again.
Hence Noah surely devoted his Sabbath days to recall the story of CREATION,
to recall why ELHM had made us, and how He made us, to recall His expectations
from us and how would Mankind become Very Good in His eyes.
And surely he learned from Enosh how to draw the Shechinah into the Sixth day
of the week.
Am I right?
As a young boy I asked my rabbi:
Since the Sabbath does not start at dusk, but a bit earlier on Friday,
while there is still some light, at what point late on Friday should we
observe the Sabbath’s laws?
His answer was: “the Sabbath’s laws apply – late on Friday – the moment
we finish reciting the “Psalm Song for the Sabbath, day” that the Levite
choir use to sing at the Holy Temple on the Sabbath day
The Rabbi referred to the “welcoming the Sabbath” service that we do
late on Friday afternoon before the official beginning of the Sabbath.
On that service, the congregation chants “Walk my Groom towards the Sabbath,”
followed by the “Psalm Song for the Sabbath” mentioned above.
Here is that Psalm:
“A (psalm) song for the Sabbat, day.
It is good to praise YHVH (Hashem) and to sing to your name…
How great are your work, YHVH, how profound,
How profound are your thoughts… An ignorant person wouldn’t know
and a fool can’t comprehend this, when the wicked thrive like grass
and all evildoers flourish, It is in order that they may be destroyed forever…
…A righteous person will flourish like a palm tree, grow tall like a cedar in Lebanon,
Planted in the house of YHVH, hey shall blossom in the courtyard of our ELHM,
they shall be fruitful even at old age, shall be full of sap and freshness…”
So I asked my Rabbi –
I see a problem here, for the “Psalm song for the Sabbath” was sung
by the Levite Choir on the Sabbath morning, for the Sabbath offering
itself, not on Friday afternoon!
Why then do we chant it on Friday evening while there is still light?
For as a rule, the Levite Choir never chanted a Psalm dedicated for one day,
on another day! It accompanied the daily offering in the morning!
The song for Tuesday was never sung on Monday!
My Rabbi then said: You are right, and the Song for the Day belongs
only for that day, yet on Friday evening we do the exceptional.
We chant the Psalm Song for the Sabbath earlier on Friday,
To show that we DRAW THE HOLY SABBATH INTO THE MUNDANE FRIDY.
In other words: we draw the Shechinah into the world of ELHM.
Then I read what the Midrash saying:
“Who is that righteous person that the Psalm song says
he would flourish in the Hashem’s courtyards? HE IS NOAH.”
Hence, the entire Psalm “Song for the Sabbath” is dedicated to Noah,
who believed that Mankind should aspire to draw the Holy Sabbath,
the Kingdom of YHVH, into ELHM’s world!
From where did Noah receive his faith?
Obviously, from his mentor, Enosh, on whom it is said
that in Enosh’ time “they began calling by the name of YHVH.”
Enosh, as we’ve learned, “called YHVH” to return to our world,
To save humanity from the Flood of his time.
Enosh was right in principle yet he erred by neglecting. ELHM,
thereby breaching Oneness.
Noah, who was raised by Enosh, was certainly aware of his grandfather
and mentor’s teaching, yet he rebelled against it.
As shown by the “Psalm Song for the Sabbath,” Noah too aspired to
draw the Sabbath into our world, into our Friday, yet unlike Enosh,
he realized that ELHM is still around and active, and that the
the Eternal Sabbath – the Kingdom of MERCY – is not yet here!
What made Noah rebel against Enosh?
What made him recognize ELHM, like Cain’s Children of ELHM?
How did he marry Naama, a descendant of Cain, despite the ban?
For that, we need to focus on Noah’s life.
We know that Noah kept Oneness, since the Torah says about him:
Noah found face in the eyes of YHVH
Noah walked with ELHM
The question is: what made him abandon Enosh’s teaching
about opting for YHVH while neglecting ELHM?
Let’s talk a bit about Noah
We can re-construct Noah’s life from the Torah, the Talmud
and various commentaries, including the Zohar.
According to the Torah, Noah was born as a tenth generation after Adam and Eve.
The number ten is not incidental, since there were also ten generations between
Noah and Abraham.
According to the Midrash, HaSheM sent humanity precious souls like Noah and Abraham,
to stir their generations in the right way.
It is important to specify that Noah was born as a seventh generation after Enosh.
The line of peoples between Enosh and Noah contains righteous people
like Hanoh, who did not die, and Methuselah, who lived longer than anyone else.
The verse says that Noah was “a complete righteous person,” which the Midrash
took as a sign that he was born naturally circumcised. How do we know that?
From Abraham. YHVH told him “Circumcise yourself and be complete!” Abraham
had to circumcise himself, while Noah was born “complete.”
The question who is greater, the one born circumcised or the one who circumcise himself,
is of interest. Some would say that the later is greater since he performs an act commanded
by G-d. Others would say that the former is greater since he is born complete.
According to the Midrash, the news about a child born circumcised arose much laughter
Among the town people. They saw it as a weird congenital blemish, something funny.
But to his parents, they saw this as an omen of greatness, since Adam too had been
Thus, the parents told everyone that –
“Our boy would bring comfort to us from our work,
And form the toll of our hands,” (5: n29)
They meant that their child would ease the curse that G-d placed on Adam
that he would “eat bread by the sweat of your brow. “
Therefore, they named him Noah, which means “rest” or “eased.”
They were right, since Noah would later convert metal weapons into the first metal plough,
thereby making the life of the farmers easier.
As you see, many things that happened to Noah, would inspire the prophets of Israel about the future. Thus, Isaiah professed that in the future, Mankind would cut their weapons to make
hoes and ploughs. And like in Noah’s ark, the wolf would not prey on the lamb and a child would safely play on a snake’s pit.
Adopted and raised by Enosh
Tradition says that Noah’s mother passed away while he was very young,
and his father Lemech gave the child to his own father, Methuselah,
to be raised by him. This did not work well, probably because Metasearch was
too old and aloof to raise a child.
But when the words about Noah reached Enosh, he asked Lemech to have him
raise the child. What exactly prompted Enosh to take such a step? After all,
he was about 900 y old – seven generations older – when Noah was a child.
Moreover, Enosh had so many wives and concubines, and his seeds filed the Earth!
We may guess, though, that what enkindled Enosh’s interest in baby Noah was the
fact that Noah was born circumcised, LIKE ADAM. He must have wondered whether
this child would turn to become a NEW ADAM, the NEW FATHER OF MANKIND.
If so, he thought, let me raise him and train him.
And indeed, Enosh raised and trained Noah to become his heir. It seems that there
was an excellent rapport between the two, despite the difference in their age.
As we’ve seen, Enosh retained a vibrant, young body and mind and he could connect
to the child. He taught Noah everything he had learned from Adam and Eve.
He taught Noah the story of CREATION the GARDEN OF EDEN, and the story of CAIN and ABEL.
And he also taught Noah about the Merciful Attribute YHVH, and about the arrival of the KINGDOM OF MERCY to rule our world. He also taught Noah how to “call YHVH” – as the verse says – STOP and DRAW HER TO RETURN INTO THE HEAVENLY COURT , offering us FORGIVENESS. ONLY YHVH WOULD STOP THE OCEAN FROM RISING.
We can imagine two of them spending time in nature, discussing the role of Mankind in preserving it. We can also imagine Noah attending his grandpa’s fiery preaching about the forthcoming of MERCY to rule the world. As a growing child he could watch the response of Enosh’ audience, the ecstasy he incited in them; hear their prayers and chant hymns along with them. “One day I will lead them,” he must have told himself, absorbing every word his grandpa Enosh said.
Yet, as he grew up a little more, when he ws a teenager, Noah also detected a fault in Enosh’ teaching. He noticed something in the audience, that Enosh failed to see. That the same excited audience, the same people, would come out and commit the most heinous crimes, including rape, murder and theft, with no fear of ELHM!
That suspicion that he had about Enosh’ teaching intensified as he continued to grow.
As a teenager, he met Naama, a descendant of Cain, and learned from her about the
Importance of ELHM. The last strow, however, that made him break away from Enoah’s teaching was what he saw happening to Cain.
Let’s remind ourselves the fate of Cain
Would Cain be punished?
After murdering Abel, YHVH charged Cain:
“What have you done! Your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground!”
It is a call for justice. It is inconceivable, YHVHG said, that you Cain walk
among the living, while your brother lies in the grave!
Cain confessed and repented, so YHVH eased his sentence. Instead of a death penalty,
Cain would exile to no-man’s land. It is equivalent to a life sentence in our time.
Moreover, to protect Cain from vengeance, YHVH said:
“Therefore, whoever slays Cain, would be avenged seven folds” (4:16)
That was an effective warning. In addition, YHVH placed an ‘ot’, a growth in the shape of a letter from YHVH’s name that protruded from his forehead. Some say it was
a ray light that radiated from his forehead to help him survive in the wood.
Cain then went to exile in the woods with only a ferocious dog by his side.
He grew hair and walked naked like a large ape.
Tradition also says that to help him survive, Adam and Eve gave Cain the airy dress
that they wore in Eden. It endowed the person who wears it the wisdom to converse
with the animals.
Rashi reads YHVH waring to say that after seven generations, YHVH’s proterction
of Cain would laps. He would be on his own thereafter.
Was Cain pardoned?
Seven generations fast forwards – and most people believed that Cain paid his dues.
Had he not confessed? Had he not served his long time in exile, living alone like an animal?
To Enosh’ crowd, who believed in MERCY, Cain deserved no more punishment.
To the Children of ELHM, their forefather had been punished enough.
Moreover, had not Cain’s descendants atoned for Cain, by taking upon themselves
to observe ELHM’s laws very strictly?
The Torah focuses on Cain’s seventh generation,
on Naama, who would marry Noah, and her family. We have already met Her brother, the genius Tubal Cain, who discovered a strong metal alloy that made his clan very powerful and wealthy. Tubal Cain’s ferocious, merciless gangues roamed the streets raping, killing and robbing under the watching Sun with no shame. And a shame of sin comes only with the awareness of YHVH. Tubal Cain’s gangues abandoned YHVH altogether.
The name ‘Tubal’ means a spice. He put a spice on Cain’s act. If Cain had killed one person by his bare hands, here was his descendant Tubal Cain who murdered thousands of people by his perfected weapons.
Tubal Cain made Cain’s crime pale. If G-d wants to punish Cain for his crime, let Him first address Tubal Cain! As long as Tubal is alive and prosperous, Cain should be exempt!
Thus, when Noah was a teenager and met Naama, no one paid much attention anymore to Cain. They had other burning issues to warry about. The two camps of society were engaged in constant fighting, with so much animosity a ban was placed on any mix marriage between the two!
The accident-prone Lemech
The Torah focuses on Nama’s father, the accident prone, fool Lemech, who had
a small head but two mighty hands that could smash an oxen head with one clap.
Being aware that YHVH’s protection of Cain for seven generations had just lapsed,
the proud Lemech wished to take over and protect Cain by the power of his clan
and by a curse he placed on anyone daring to slay Cain.
He therefore moved his family close to the woods where Cain lived,
And made ther following announcement:
If Cain is avenged seven folds (by YHVH)
By Lemech, seventy-seven folds. “
He is greater than YHVH! If YHVH had promised ‘seven fold” retribution to anyone who avenges Cain, Lemech \ now cursed him seventy-seven folds! The killer and his descendants
would be punished for seventy-seven generations!
One day the arch murderer Tubal Cain brought home a new, tough bow
and new metal arrowheads that he had just made. The new arrow would
fly in the air straight and hit the target with full force.
The bow, however, needed very strong hands to draw. Only a person like Lemech
with his strong hands could use it.
Proudly, Tubal Cain presented the bow to his father. They went out to the nearby wood
and Lemech drew the bow easily. Out there among the trees they notice a large, ape like figure
surrounded with a strange light, THAT MADE IT A GOOD TARGET.
Lemech aimed the bow, but being half blinded he couldn’t see the target clearly.
Tubal Cain then helped him to aim the arrow at the figure in the woods.
“Father, Shoot!” Tubal Cain shouted in excitement and Lemech released the arrow
which flew straight and hit the target hard with full force. It fell readily to the ground.
From a far, they could hear a barking of a dog, that seemed like crying.
“Father, wait here,” Tobal Cain called and ran to the wood for the catch.
To his great hoor, he saw their own forefather Cain lying on the ground dead,
with the metal arrow stuck in its forehead, exactly where the light radiated from.
When Lemech learned what happened, he clapped his hand in much sorrow and anger,
realizing that the curse he had made would fall now on hjs own head.
According to the verse, he told his two wives:
Ada and Zila, hear my voice, Lemech’s wives, give ear to my speech,
for I have just killed a man to my wound, and a boy to my bruise! (4: 24)
The man he killed was Cain, and the boy he wounded was his own son, Tubal Cain.
Apparently, in his sorrow, the accident-prone Lemech clapped his mighty hands
over his son and smashed his spine severely.
By this, ELHM’s Retribution Was Complete.
To Noah, and to anyone who was watching, Cain’s demise was a lesson:
Clearly, these are hands of the JUDGE ELHM! Measure for Measure!
Since Cain had killed his brother, now his own descendant Tubal Cain killed him,
in perfect cycle of JUSTICE, measure for measure.
Since Tubal Cain himself deserved the death penalty many times fold for perfecting Cain’s murderous act, here came his own arrogant father and killed him together with Cain,
in a perfect act of retribution by ELHM for all to see.
That monumental event showed Noah that unlike what Enosh was preaching,
the Attribute of JUSTICE, ELHM, is still around and active, still running the world!
The Heavenly Court of YHVH ELHM is still here!
We can depicton the Shema both Enosh’s teaching Vs. Noah’s teaching, as follows:
- Hear Oh Israel,
- YHVH, our ELHM,
- YHVH is One
Enosh believed that Mankind is already under YHVH alone, line 3
whereas Noah realized that we are still living under YHVH-ELHM, line 2.
One family abiding by Oneness
Noah came from Enosh who worshipped YHVH,
Naama came from Cain who worshipped ELHM,
Together, in their marriage, they implemented Y-E Oneness,
We’ll return to Noah and the Rainbow Covenant later in our class
as we discuss BLOODSHED and its laws.
Let’s continue now with Noah’s first Commandment: IDOLATRY